For the past decade and beyond, Wisconsin has made its mark in the Big Ten Conference and on the national landscape with a beefy offensive line and a stable of bruising running backs. Ron Dayne won the Heisman Trophy in the late 1990s. Montee Ball held the NCAA record for career touchdowns. Melvin Gordon had a 400-yard game last season. Stopping the Badgers has always started at the line of scrimmage.
The so-called Gary Kubiak effect means running back Justin Forsett, fresh off a 1,266-yard season and 5.4 yards per carry for the Ravens, has vaulted up the free-agent running back rankings as he looks for his first big-money contract.
Wisconsin offensive tackle Rob Havenstein, a Mount Airy native, is hoping for an NFL career as he practices this week at the Senior Bowl all-star game. Projected anywhere from the fourth to the fifth round by NFL scouts and draft analysts, Havenstein's roots go back to playing at Linganore.
Admittedly, when I heard the Ravens were on the verge of hiring Wisconsin running backs coach Thomas Hammock, I didn¿t know anything about him. The Ravens have been looking to poach a couple of young, bright assistants from the college ranks to round out their coaching staff, and Hammock fits the bill.
That the Denver Broncos named Ronnie Hillman as their starting running back over Knowshon Moreno and rookie Montee Ball for Thursday night¿s game against the Ravens was a big deal to fantasy football aficionados. But defensive coordinator Dean Pees didn't know and, with all due respect to the three main candidates to carry the ball for the Broncos, he didn't really seem to care when asked about it on Monday.